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It's normally good to listen to the experts. When you're weighing up a bet, getting the views of the men who've been there and done it themselves, or seen decades of similar contests, can help you crystallise your thoughts.

So with the Haye v Harrison world title fight now just three days away it seemed a good morning to check out the opinions in the papers. Surprise, surprise - four out of five experts quoted this morning give big Audley a puncher's chance or more of winning.

Betfair's punters have hardened their view in the opposite direction, with Haye's price trimming a fraction to 1.16, and a first round stoppage in his favour the most popular outcome at 9.5. And on their side is that the most logical assessment comes today from the last bloke who did get on the wrong end of an Audley Harrison left-hander, Michael Sprott. He's going for a Haye win inside five rounds, and says: "I wouldn't put my house on it, but if I had six houses I would keep the other five and put one on." On Betfair's market that would get him 1.69 houses in return!

The others? Let's start with one of boxing's greats Mike Tyson, who reckons former cruiserweight champ Haye could be vulnerable to one of those big, powerful punches with 19 stones of a genuine heavyweight behind it. "Audley's a southpaw and David is real susceptible to that right hand because he throws a lot of lefts," is his verdict.

Then there's Lennox Lewis, once undisputed world champion and a man who has tried to mentor Harrison for much of a career that could have been so much better if he had ever listened to advice. His assessment? "Audley has the power to stun the world. Haye is a better boxer but Audley is a consummate pro."

Britain's most popular heavyweight of modern times, Frank Bruno, also goes for Audley on similar grounds. "Some people underestimate him, but he's a southpaw, a natural heavyweight, and he can connect with that left hand."

Did I mention five experts? The last word goes to Audley Harrison's wife Raychel (but then doesn't the last word always go to the missus?). Her summing up? "It's not if he can land that left hook, but when. Audley's mind is so bright and it is his mind which will win this game."

So I know boxing has a long history of selling tickets - and in these times pay per view subscriptions - by convincing the underdog has a genuine opportunity in what turns out to be a one-sided fight. And maybe I'm a sucker for the stories. But I am fascinated by the amount of top judges giving Harrison an even money chance, making 7.2 more and more appealing as the value bet. I wouldn't risk a house on it, even if I did have six others. But a sneaky tenner might be a different proposition.


Five things you might not know about Michael Sprott

1. Born January 1975 in Eardley near Reading, his parents Dorrie and Albert also had three girls. Sadly his sister Ginette took her own life in September 1979 having suffered from post-natal depression.

2. He trained as a motor mechanic after leaving school, and still works part-time in the Reading branch of Kwik-Fit. He's also had jobs as a furniture removals man.

3. He has the name of his nine-year-old son Darnell stitched on his shorts and describes himself as a "doting dad."

4. British heavyweight champion in 2004 after outpointing Danny Williams, he held the title just three months before being knocked out by Matt Skelton.

5. He helps support a project for planning permission to redevelop the Maidenhead which is his base - although he spends a lot of time in Germany as a regular sparring partner for both Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko.


By Ralph Ellis

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